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Insurance Services Office (ISO) Rating Information

Foothills Fire & Rescue ISO Rating: 3

ISO Public Protection Classification (PPC™) Program

To help establish appropriate fire insurance premiums for residential and commercial properties, insurance companies need reliable, up-to-date information about a community's fire-protection services. The Insurance Services Office (ISO) provides that information through the Public Protection Classification (PPC™) program. Since 1971, the ISO program has collected information on municipal fire protection efforts in communities throughout the United States. In each of those communities, ISO analyzes the relevant data using their Fire Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS).

A PPC™ is then assigned from 1 to 10. Class 1 generally represents superior property fire protection, and Class 10 indicates that the area's fire-suppression program doesn't meet ISO's minimum criteria.

By classifying communities' ability to suppress fires, ISO helps communities evaluate their public fire-protection services. The program provides an objective, countrywide standard that helps fire departments in planning and budgeting for facilities, equipment, and training. And by securing lower fire insurance premiums for communities with better public protection, the PPC™ program provides incentives and rewards for communities that choose to improve their firefighting services. Because most U.S. insurers of home and business properties use ISO's PPC™ in calculating premiums, the price of insurance in a community with a good PPC™ is generally lower than in a community with a poor PPC™, assuming all other factors are equal. The ISO rating is applied to fire departments approximately every 10 years and has extensive information on more than 47,000 fire-response jurisdictions.

(ISO information reprinted with permission from the ISO Insurance Services Office.)


Foothills Fire & Rescue's ISO Rating

Foothills Fire & Rescue was give an ISO rating of 3 in 2017. Following are the essential elements a fire department must have to receive a Class 3 rating:

  • Fire department must have pumper capacity to suppress a fire in any building in the community
  • Fire department must have a 24-hour central dispatch for contacting all firefighters on duty via radio
  • Must have fully equipped reserve apparatus
  • Annual tests must be conducted on pumper trucks, hoses, and hydrants
  • A minimum number of firefighters must be active in the department and respond to alarms
  • Firefighter training must greatly exceed minimum standards
  • The department and community must have a definitive, reliable, and pressurized water supply
  • Must perform annual fire code building inspections.

We had a split ISO rating of 4/5 in 2012. This new rating of 3 puts our department in the top 14-23% of all fire departments in the state of Colorado, and in the top 11-18% of all fire departments in the entire USA!

ISO charts

Foothills Fire & Rescue Fire Stations List and Fire Hydrant Location Map

To find out what rating your property is under, click on the following links:

ISO Split Ratings

When ISO develops a single PPC™ for a community, all of the community’s properties receive that classification. However, in many communities, ISO develops a split classification—for example, 5/9. Generally, the first class (Class 5 in this example) applies to properties within 5 road miles of a fire station and within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant. The second class (Class 9 in the example) applies to properties within 5 road miles of a fire station but beyond 1,000 feet of a hydrant. ISO generally assigns Class 10 to properties beyond 5 road miles.

How the PPC™ Program Works

The Public Protection Classification (PPC™) program provides important, up-to-date information about municipal fire protection services in each community surveyed. ISO's expert staff collects information about the quality of public fire protection in more than 47,500 fire protection areas across the United States. In each of those protection areas, ISO analyzes the relevant data and assigns a PPC™ — a grading from 1 to 10. Class 1 generally represents superior property fire protection, and Class 10 indicates that the area's fire suppression program does not meet ISO's minimum criteria.

Most U.S. insurers of home and business properties use ISO's PPC™ in calculating premiums. In general, the price of insurance in a community with a good PPC™ is lower than in a community with a poor PPC™, assuming all other factors are equal.

A community's PPC™ depends on:

  • Emergency communications systems, including facilities for the public to report fires, staffing, training, certification of telecommunicators, and facilities for dispatching fire departments
  • The fire department, including equipment, staffing, training, and geographic deployment of fire companies
  • The water supply system, including the inspection and flow testing of hydrants and a careful evaluation of the amount of available water compared with the amount needed to suppress fires
  • Community efforts to reduce the risk of fire, including fire prevention codes and enforcement, public fire safety education, and fire investigation programs.

The most significant benefit of the PPC™ program is its effect on losses. Statistical data on insurance losses bears out the relationship between excellent fire protection — as measured by the PPC™ program — and low fire losses. PPC™ helps communities prepare to fight fires effectively.

How Does PPC™ Information Affect Individual Insurance Policies?

ISO's PPC™ information plays an important part in the decisions insurers make affecting the underwriting and pricing of property insurance. In fact, most U.S. insurance companies — including the largest ones — use PPC™ information in one or more of the following ways:

  • To identify opportunities for writing new business
  • To manage the quality of community fire protection across their book of business
  • To review loss experience in various rating territories
  • To offer coverages and establish deductibles for individual homes and businesses.

Insurance companies — not ISO — establish the premiums they charge to policyholders. The methodology a company uses to calculate premiums for property insurance may depend on the company's fire loss experience, underwriting guidelines, and marketing strategy.

Here are some general guidelines to help understand the benefits of improved PPC™ ratings for residents and businesses:

  • PPC™ may affect the underwriting and pricing for a variety of personal and commercial insurance coverages, including homeowners, mobile home, fine arts floaters, and commercial property (including business interruption).
  • Assuming all other factors are equal, the price of property insurance in a community with a good PPC™ is lower than in a community with a poor PPC™.

The PPC™ Evaluation Process

To determine a community's PPC™, ISO conducts a field survey. Expert ISO staff visit the community to observe and evaluate features of the fire protection systems. Using the Fire & Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS) manual, ISO objectively evaluates four major areas*:

  1. Emergency communications systems - A review of the emergency communications systems accounts for 10 points of the total classification. The review focuses on the community's facilities and support for handling and dispatching alarms for structure fires.
  2. Fire department - A review of the fire department accounts for 50 points of the total classification. ISO focuses on a community's fire suppression capabilities, measuring suppression capabilities based on the fire department's first-alarm response and initial attack to minimize potential loss. ISO reviews such items as engine companies, ladder or service companies, deployment of fire companies, equipment carried on apparatus, pumping capacity, reserve apparatus, company personnel, and training.
  3. Water supply - A review of the water supply system accounts for 40 points of the total classification. ISO evaluates the community's water supply system to determine the adequacy for fire suppression purposes, considering hydrant size, type, and installation, as well as the frequency and completeness of hydrant inspection and flow-testing programs.
  4. Community risk reduction - A review of a community's risk reduction efforts is credited to them in the Community Risk Reduction section, which allows for extra credit of up to 5.5 points for a potential total of 105.5. The review takes into account fire prevention code adoption and enforcement, public fire safety education, and fire investigation.

* PPC™ ratings can change as fire departments, water districts and other entities improve infrastructure and services.

After completing the field survey, ISO analyzes the data and calculates a PPC™. ISO provides the community a reporting detailing the new ISO rating, a hydrant-flow summary sheet, and a PPC™ Summary Report. The summary explains each subcategory and indicates the total points the community earned. The report also indicates the performance needed to receive full credit for each specific section in the schedule, as well as the quantity actually provided.


Even the best fire department will be less than fully effective if it has an inadequate water supply. Similarly, even a superior water supply will be less than fully effective if the fire department lacks the equipment, personnel, or operational considerations to use the water. If the relative scores for fire department and water supply are different, ISO adjusts the total score downward to reflect the limiting effect of the less adequate item on the better one.

For more information about ISO evaluations and ratings, please visit the following websites:

(ISO information reprinted with permission from the ISO Insurance Services Office.)